February 27, 2011

Gen 2-3: ‘Image Bearers in Disgrace’:

The Grace Of Shared Dominion: Gen 2:
(Note: This post outlines my ‘brief notes’ from the second talk by Peter Jensen at the launch of the Priscilla and Aquila Foundation’. See also my notes from talk 1- ‘Image Bearers in Grace’).

Gen 2:24 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh”
We find here at the end of Gen 2, man and woman beginning to move from ‘working together in partnership’ into  marriage relationship together. We find  that marriage is to become the central case of mankind’s shared dominion. It is central (though not essential) to the task of being human. This Picture at the end of Gen 2 has a great deal to commend in contrast to the culture in which we now live in the 21st century.

In the very next verse we are told that,the man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame”. In other words, it was a relationship of transparency, of innocence without guilt. Their ‘nakedness’ is symbolic of this guiltless, unashamed state.

There are certain principles to note here:

* Marriage of ‘a man and a woman’ is the definition and principle of marriage.
* To the exclusion of all others (polygamy and adultery)
* There's to be a priority of marriage over the closest of other relationships. For there's to be a ‘leaving and cleaving’ (e.g.parents must now take 2nd place to the husband/wife relationship).
* There is permanence, a ‘one flesh-ness’ that creates ‘kindred-ness’ despite there not being a genetic relationship.
* One of the tasks is procreation.

The end of Gen 2 is a powerful and potent picture, and it actually has a great deal to commend in contrast to the culture in which we now live. All of these things are demonstrably better than contemporary arrangements. Demonstrably better for men, for women, and for children.

There is also a responsibility in the man, in initiating and sustaining marriage- he ‘leaves’ his parents and he ‘clings’ to his wife. We can describe this as a ‘singularity’ of responsibility, there is a definite ‘initiative taking’ for the man in making and sustaining the marriage which belongs to him. A responsibility that is not co-terminate with the responsibilities the woman has, but rather, is unique to man.

The Disgrace Of Disobedience: Gen 3:

When we get to chapter 3 we no longer find order but disorder, and the passage most certainly shows the wrongfulness of this disorder. 
But is that what the passage teaches?

As the roles and responsibilities of man and woman are different, so too we find that the sin of the man and woman are not the same. There's a clear discrimination of sins between the man and the woman in their role of ‘ruling’.

In 3:13 the deception of the woman is contrasted with the arrogance of the man…
Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” 
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Here Adam ‘listens’ (Hebrew=obedience) to the voice of his wife, as opposed to the voice of God. In listening to his wife’s suggestion, Adam’s sin is an arrogant disregard of the word of God as it was given specifically to him.
Paul picks up the same distinction between the different sins of Adam and of Eve in 1Tim 2:14: “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner”.
And he does so again in 2Cor 11:13: But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”Here Paul refers to the deception of Eve and then applies it to the Corinthian church, which though a bride, is comprised of both men and women vulnerable to sin.
In Corinthians, the deception of the evil one is paralleled to the danger of  deception that one could likewise happen to the Corinthians themselves if they’re not careful. This is a clear reference to salvation history, where Christians are reminded of what has gone before and then called upon to ‘remember' this history and therefore ‘avoid it’.
It’s important that we note that the purpose of the writer here is to draw a distinction between the sin of Adam and that of Eve. This is the real point of 3:13, it is NOT saying that women ‘by nature’ are always ‘easily deceived’.

We also note that it’s true that the words of the woman DO indicate something significant, but it is actually Adam who bears the chief responsibility here in his ‘representative’ capacity. 

There's a sinfulness in Adam, which is entirely peculiar to him. It’s not that the woman hasn’t sinned for clearly she has, but Adam stands as the representative of our race. It is Adam who receives the word of God in the garden while the woman was yet to be formed (2:16,cf Acts 17:26). Adam receives the word of God in his representative capacity, and it is therefore his sin that seals the fall of humanity.
1 Cor 15 picks up this reality as it relates to a renewed image for humanity, recreated by the new ‘Adam’, the Christ. In vs47 we find the first Adam, of the dust of the earth,’ contrasted with the new Adam, the last Adam, Jesus the ‘man from heaven’in whom we now bear His image. Rom 5 describes humanity as now existing in two possible states. We are either in Adam’ or ‘Adamites’, or we are in Christ’.
Consequences of the fall: East of Eden:
* We find both man and woman suffering the terrible indignity of banishment from Eden (v24) and re-entry into Eden forever barred from them. The original ‘image bearers’ are thoroughly punished for their rebellion against God and death befalls both as the wages of their sin.
* A ‘particular’ punishment is also given to each. Each one is given an indignity of pain in a peculiar way to each. For the woman, pain is in childbearing (v16), joy that will also carry with it pain and suffering as a reminder that she is living under the judgment of God. So too, will be her power struggle with her own husband, a 'desire/rule’. 

Is this a distorted desire? …possibly? A desire to rule over him?... possibly? But whatever the right reading, what is clear is that there will be a punishment of tremendous marital discord. There will forever be trouble, pain and suffering in their relationship.
For the man there will be pain in work, there will be pain and suffering in his efforts to bring things to life. And the punishment that ultimately he is doomed to return to the dust he came from (v17-19). Death is an end to the curse of life toil as we have lived it.
As we move into chapter 4 of Genesis it becomes clear what life is like for humanity under the curse. The pain and suffering of Adam and Eve is passed on to their children, and so down through the rest of humanity.
God’s grace for the disgraced:
And yet, as we read this devastating chapter we also find…
* The Lord seeking Adam and Eve out in the cool of the garden (v8). Even knowing the truth God does not abandon them. He does not bring about their immediate destruction.
* v20 God names her ‘Eve’ the “mother of all living” (1Cor 11) indicating that there will be a future for this guilty pair.
* The Lord also makes garments for them and ‘clothes’ them (v21). By doing this he has not taken away their ‘shame’ (2:25, 3:7-11) for only the cross can truly cover their shame. 
As a prelude to the work of the cross there are clothes provided for them so that Adam and Eve didn’t have to walk around in their shame and nakedness. These ‘skins’ are a sign that God has not finished with them.
Before, Adam and Eve lived under God’s ‘common grace’, now they live under his grace to the thoroughly undeserving, just as we do today.
* In the promise to the serpent in v15 we also see a word of hope. From the offspring of the woman would come the victory of God and the triumph over evil.
* Image is not lost but retained, though defaced (Col 3:9-10).
* Adam’s name is not lost either, for Jesus himself is then called the ‘Son of Adam’ (Lk 3:38).
The New Adam:
* Through the ‘Son of Adam’ humanity is to learn the proper way of relationships. Headship must be exercised for the proper benefit of the other (Eph 5). The N.T passages call upon men as men to exercise headship in a way that reflects the true Adam, that is, Christ.
* For Eve, the ‘mother of all living’ (Gen 3:15) she is given the privilege of being a model for the church. The son who died for her- the ‘bride of Christ’ is her model. We also see that from a virgin woman comes a Saviour (Lk 1:34f), thereby exalting woman, for from her will come the one who will finally crush the serpents head (Lk 1:48, Heb 2:14).

To Conclude:
It is clear that both man and woman are to partner each other in living for Christ in righteousness and holiness. And what is that work that we are to do together?
- to be fruitful and multiply
- to rule the world for the benefit of the world
- to live in the good works we are called upon to walk in day by day (e.g. to rule the world by the good works of prayer, the greatest work we can do to fulfill our ‘image bearing’ role in the world. Col 3:5-11).

February 18, 2011

GEN 1-3: ‘Image Bearers In Grace’:

This post and the one following are brief 'notes' taken from Peter Jensen’s 2 opening talks at the launch of Moore College’s Priscilla and Aquila Foundation.

Complementarianism is the biblical orthodox view that needs to be explained and addressed in our new culture; there is a painful disjunction between the Bible and the community. If it is Biblical we will be serving the community.

OVERTURE: Gen 1-3:

Gen 1-3 is a profound passage in the scriptures. It is the beginning of a great journey that will shape what follows. Gen 1-3 sets the journey going; it’s the place we look to gather where we are going, much like rowing in boat, we take our direction from looking behind.
But it is not THE journey as such, for there is so much more to come.

So WHAT is Gen 1-3? And HOW should we read it?

* As a proto-history with symbolic naturalism? As a theological polemic against naturalism?

But Gen 1-3 is theocentric before it is anthropocentric.
It is about God before it is about us. Who is he? What has he done? Why has he done it?
And it touches on a myriad of other things…
-it deals with the nature of work
-the origin of sin
-God’s judgement
-other gods
-creation …etc

* Gen 1-3 is also part of a story not just a philosophical snapshot; and as such it has movement in it. 

Therefore, the key to reading it is within the larger context of the whole of scripture. Scripture gives us the Holy Spirit’s interpretation (eg. we find Jesus’ teaching in Matt 19 on marriage and divorce as it relates to the original intention found in Gen 1-3. Here Jesus takes the hearers back to the fundamentals of these chapters as the context for thinking about divorce. In looking back on Gen 1-3 Jesus reinforces the ‘principle’ of marriage in Matt 19 i.e. the commitment to marriage as something intended to be permanent and life long).

* So, how do you intend to listen to scripture?
Will we recognise God as our creator and humans as his dependant creation? Will I submit to God’s rule?  His kingdom? His word? His trust? trusting in His wisdom?
To listen to the Word of God, to listen with a ‘faith that obeys’.



* Gen 1:26: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,
                   and let them rule over the fish of the sea
                   and the birds of the air, over the livestock,
                   over all the earth, and over all the creatures
                   that move along the ground.”

We note that Adam is not named, rather the title ‘Adam’ is being used as a generic title for ‘humankind’. (cf 5:1-2 “he called them ‘man’ or ‘Adam’). The title points to a role that he has been given, a unique role, a ‘singularity’ if you like.

And the ‘image’ language used here is meant to show the uniqueness of this humankind, a term not given to the plants or the animals. There is uniqueness to the human being. A preciousness to God, and therefore we are to understand that there is a preciousness to all of us. 
It sets a protective circle around mankind, around men and women, and this is the case even after the fall (9:6).

The image language also points to the sovereignty of human beings over the world in which we live. We rule as God rules over his creation, we rule under God’s authority and rule.

So, to summarise: these are the 2 elements of the ‘image’ language: uniqueness and rule.

* Gen 2:5: and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth
                 and no plant of the field had yet sprung up,
                 for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth
                 and there was no man to work the ground…”

Here we find that the created earth cannot fulfill its potential without its ‘image bearing man’. It demonstrates that part of the continued blessing of God on the world is the ministry of man.

*Gen 2:7: the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed
                into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”.

Adam is created from dust. He is NOT the creator but a living creature entirely dependent on the God who created him. And Adam, so created, is to ‘work and guard the garden’ (2:15), he is called to exercise his ‘dominion’ by ‘caring’ for it. Here the man is entirely under the rule of the word of God. Listening to, and obeying God’s word is part of his role.

* Gen 2:18: The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.
                   I will make a helper suitable for him.”

The words ‘not good’ are a comment on the arrangement that man should be ‘alone’. He is described as ‘incomplete’. Not emotionally, but for the job he's been given (i.e. filling the earth and subduing it). He cannot tend and care for the garden 'alone', or on his own. The point here, is that Adam cannot fulfill his potential without ‘another’ beside him.

* Gen 2:19-20:  Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name…”.
Adam names the animals as part of the work he’s been given to do. 
Here we all own Adam and from him we all come.


* Gen 1:26-27: So God created man in his own image, 
                        in the image of God he created him; 
                        male and female he created them”. V27.

Eve likewise, is also created in the ‘image of God’, and, as with Adam, she is equally and uniquely precious to God. She is also equally and uniquely involved in the task of ruling the world under God.

* Gen 2:18: “The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (or, ‘fit’ or ‘corresponding to’ him).
What does it mean that God made a ‘suitable helper’?
The reference to needing a helper here is really a word about Adam rather than Eve. It shows the 'incompleteness' of Adam i.e. his inadequacy in the task he's been given without Eve. Nothing hierarchical is in the word.
The reference ‘suitable’ or ‘fit for him’, signifies someone who is- ‘not the same as’. One who will NOT be IDENTICAL with him (as with a duplicate, as with another man), but one who will share his essential being.

The woman is essentially always ‘one with man’, equally made in God’s image and equally partaking in man’s full humanity.
In their humanity there will also be no confusion of the sexes, for they are made ‘male and female’. These are the principles set down in the creation, they are both one in full and complete humanity, where the woman is not the same as him, but they are distinctly male and female.
So, are all women helpers by role or by nature?

Yes, in the sense that all men are incomplete without women FOR the task God has given. ‘Helper’ applies to women here in the context of men not being able to rule 'alone' (and this is especially in the task of ‘fruitfulness’, or ‘filling the earth’).

We also see that both the man and woman are not alien to each other, for unlike Adam, she does not come ‘from the dust’ but is taken from ‘his side’. Thus indicating a prior unity, and an ongoing unity. Men and women are not a different species from each other, but like man, women are distinctly separate from the animals, just as he is.

Nor is she just a friend. She complements the man; she does not just repeat him. 
The man recognizes her with joy as ‘from him' and ‘with’ him.

She is also to be seen as essential to the task of mankind. Men and women are to treat each other uniquely, women are not to disappear from social constructs, rather, she is to work with him, especially in the procreative element of ruling.

Does man’s naming of her reflect order?

It is likely to be the case, but this is not so much the teaching of the passage, but rather the underlying assumption. The man does have a unique responsibility (and authority, for authority comes out of responsibility).

Is there a difference in responsibility in the role of the man and the woman?

This also fits the N.T passages, where the N.T makes a theological point out of the priority of man in 1Tim, and also out of the source of the woman in 1Cor 11. Here we see that theological weight is given to the man’s priority in creation and the woman’s source of creation being from the man.

* The next post will be Peter’s second talk: ‘Image Bearers in Disgrace’: